The Impact of Query Refinement on Systematic Review Literature Search: A Query Log Analysis

2022 | The 8th ACM SIGIR International Conference on the Theory of Information Retrieval
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Connor Forbes
Justin Clark

The creation of high-quality medical systematic reviews requires the development of a complex Boolean query to retrieve medical literature. An effective query in this context is critical, as it determines how many documents are to be assessed for inclusion in the resulting systematic review, as all retrieved documents must be screened. Therefore an effective query must balance a reasonable assessment workload with an estimate for how many relevant documents exist for a given topic. Getting this balance correct is naturally a difficult challenge, and there is a certain level of intuition involved in how a query should be formulated and refined. This paper reveals such intuitions and behaviours by analysing the query logs of a specialised tool developed to assist expert searchers in refining complex Boolean queries. These query logs contain unique information that permits a deeper understanding of user behaviour than previous studies.